Author: Kenan GULUZADE
Within a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed various vices and virtues of people, societies and even states: from madness to scrupulously calculated counter-measures, from cruelty to altruism, from indifference to empathy, from intimidation by a terrorist attack to humanitarian aid.
After all, there is no silver lining. The new global crisis has helped people, societies and states to better know their friends and enemies, plunge into history and make plans for the future.
The history of the momentous event of the recent days goes back to 1847, when the North American Indian tribe Choctaw provided humanitarian assistance to the Irish during the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-1849). Indians sent the starving Irish $710. As a token of gratitude, the latter erected a sculpture in the form of nine huge feathers in Cork.
Now, after 173 years, the Irish made a return gesture. During the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, they launched a charity event and raised almost $2 million for the indigenous North American peoples of Navajo and Hopi.
In a video filmed by an Ukrainian resident and made public on social networks, she says that she was literally left without a piece of bread when she moved to Moscow. It was a group of Azerbaijanis that came to the rescue. What a proud feeling to listen to the words of gratitude from that woman, who also congratulated the Azerbaijanis with the upcoming holy day of Ramadan.
The lest we forget. Especially when the good deeds take place during the times of plague or famine. Perhaps after 173 years the great-grandchildren of that Ukrainian woman will talk about Azerbaijanis, who, unlike all the others who refused to help, showed empathy without dividing peoples according to ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Any assistance provided by a person exalts him and, possibly, the community to which he or she belongs. Community assistance is recorded in history. Of course, assistance is provided for free, without any binding obligations. It is not necessary to wait for something in return. But nevertheless, it opens up completely different possibilities, leaving behind many positive feelings.
Azerbaijan, our society and our state has faced a humanitarian catastrophe after the occupation of its territories. A million of refugees and internally displaced persons in the 1990s was a real problem for a young state with huge losses during the Karabakh war with Armenia. Many international organisations, countries friendly to Azerbaijan, and even the states partially responsible for the catastrophe provided us with humanitarian assistance.
Over time, Azerbaijan has transformed from a recipient country into a donor country. Our country has become a member of peacekeeping missions, our specialists have provided and are helping in places of rampant natural disasters, far beyond the borders of the country we support the world cultural heritage, send food products, medicines, and make millions of financial transfers. Azerbaijan demonstrates to the whole world that we all remember and we are grateful.
Like many civilian states, Azerbaijan also implements its humanitarian diplomacy. So, the country transferred $10 million to the World Health Organisation, which focuses on the global fight against the spread of the virus. We also provided a direct assistance to our geographic and geopolitical neighbours, including Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Hungary, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.
All this assistance is done amid the pandemic. Despite the humanitarian crisis, Azerbaijan is helping others.
In 2011, the Assistance to International Development Agency (AIDA) was established in Azerbaijan under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan. In principle, we can assume that this is the date when Azerbaijan introduced the systemic approach in this direction. The agency's activities are carried out in two main areas: the provision of humanitarian assistance and development support.
Over the nine years, Azerbaijan has provided assistance to many countries of the world, including countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and even Europe. The coverage of humanitarian aid extends from Serbia and Albania to Yemen and Burundi, from support during floods to treatment for blindness, from fighting Ebola to training diplomats.
It certainly will not be forgotten. This is not done for profit. Perhaps this will return to us in 173 hours, 173 days or 173 years, who knows...